Beer Review – Yards Brewing Company’s Cape of Good Hope


Yards Cape of Good Hope

I first had the Yards Brewing Company Cape of Good Hope in cask form during a 2012 dinner with Mrs. G-LO at Amis, a Marc Vetri restaurant in Center City Philadelphia. About two months ago, I almost had it again in cask form at Alla Spina, yet another Philadelphia restaurant owned by Marc Vetri. Unfortunately, the cask was already kicked on the night I dined there, so when I saw a bottle of this beer on the shelf at Wineworks in Marlton, NJ during a recent beer run, I knew that I just had to pick it up to see if it’s as good as I remember.

Here’s what the City of Brotherly Love’s Yards Brewing Company has to say about their Cape of Good Hope:

Legend has it that a pioneering brewer made stronger, hoppier ales to survive the epic sea voyages around the Cape of Good Hope from England to India. True or not, Cape of Good Hope is our annual tribute to adventurous brewers like him, and our gift to adventurous souls like you.

Cape of Good Hope Expedition 2012 is our interpretation of a generously hopped Double IPA. The heaps upon heaps of Cascade, Crystal, Calypso, Columbus and Bravo hops deliver aromas of pineapple and tangerine, while the Crystal and Aromatic malts add body, sweetness, and a balance of biscuit and caramel flavors. Drink adventurously, but responsibly. And beware of tigers…

And now for my review…

  • Appearance: Slightly cloudy, pale orange color. Fast rising off white head that settles to about an 1/8 of an inch. Thick, sticky lacing.
  • Aroma: Uber hoppy with both citrus (think tangerines and grapefruit) and evergreen notes. Also getting some tea biscuity sweetness and a smattering of funk.
  • Taste: Lightly carbonated with a slight fizziness. Starts off with a firm hoppy bite with lots of pine resin and grapefruit zest coming through. A bit of honey sweetness at mid-palate. At the finish, the hops intensify a bit and concentrate on the middle of my tongue. Moderately dry and astringent with a soothing bitter aftertaste.
  • ABV: 8.3%

I am happy to report that the Yards Cape of Good Hope lost very little in its translation from cask to bottle form (the cask version was a wee bit smoother and creamier). While I can’t say that I have explored much of Yards line up, I can say that this is easily the best Yards beer that I’ve ever had. This is a solid Double IPA that I recommend without reservation.

Beer Review – Manayunk Brewing Co. Yunkin’ Punkin’ Ale


Manayunk Brewing Co Yunkin' Punkin'

Fall is an odd time of year for me with respects to beer. Oktoberfest (aka Marzen) and pumpkin beers line the shelves, but with the exception of maybe two or three of them, I don’t care much for either of these beer styles. That being said, I’m always willing to try something new with the hope that it will change my mind, which is why I picked up a can of Manayunk Brewing Company’s Yunkin’ Punkin’ Ale. I figured that since I enjoyed their Schuylkill Punch, maybe I’ll like their pumpkin ale too.

Before we get to my review, here is what Manayunk Brewing Company has to say about this beer:

Brewed with real pumpkin, this seasonal favorite is the one true indication that fall has arrived. The aroma of nutmeg, allspice, cinnamon, and clove jump out of the glass creating an experience much like eating a slice of pumpkin pie on a brisk autumn afternoon. A perfect companion for any of our desserts.

Let’s find out if this beer will change my mind about pumpkin beers…

  • Appearance: Clear amber/orange color. Fast rising head that disappears as rapidly as it formed. No lacing.
  • Aroma: The pumpkin pie spices are definitely there, i.e. clove, cinnamon, allspice, etc., but they’re not all that potent. A hint of candied orange is in there too.
  • Taste: Lightly carbonated. There’s a hint of those pumpkin pie spices coming through, but it’s even more subdued than it was in the nose. Not much in the way of bitterness or sweetness. Picked up a bit of vanilla and allspice in the finish, but not enough to keep me interested. Annoying aftertaste that I can’t quite figure out.
  • ABV: 5.5%

I really wanted to like this beer. I mean, I like the name, I like the artwork on the can, and I really like that it’s brewed in my hometown, but in case you couldn’t tell from my tasting notes, Manayunk Brewing Company’s Yunkin’ Punkin’ Ale just didn’t thrill me. Personally, I think it has more to do with the style (i.e. pumpkin ale) than the actual beer itself since I still haven’t figured what a pumpkin ale is supposed to taste like.

Beer Review – Monday Night Brewing Fu Manbrew


Monday Night Brewing Fu Manbrew

“Yeast sample for lab analysis”. That’s what was written on the label that was taped to the box that contained the beer that you see in the photo above these words. In addition to this beer, there were two other beers in the box from Monday Night Brewing: their Eye Patch Ale, which I have already reviewed, and their Drafty Kilt Scotch Ale.

To be completely honest, prior to their email asking if we’d like to sample their beers, I had never heard of Monday Night Brewing. As is usually the case when I get an email from someone that I don’t know, I did a bit of interwebz research to see if the sender is legit. Thankfully, a simple “Monday Night Brewing” Google search led me to their website which then led me to their Twitter feed, Instagram account, and Facebook page. And if all that weren’t enough, I also found their brewery profile pages on Beer Advocate and Rate Beer. 

Here is what Monday Night Brewing is all about (courtesy of the “About” section on their website):

Monday Night Brewing is an Atlanta-based craft brewery. We brew beers for the weeknights – balanced, flavorful ales that pair well with food.

Believe it or not, the idea for Monday Night Brewing grew out of a small Atlanta Bible study. We started brewing beer together on Monday nights as a way to get to know each other better. As we got more engrained in the industry and more people started showing up to brew with us, beer quickly became more than just a weeknight hobby.

We spent almost 5 years perfecting our Eye Patch Ale and Drafty Kilt Scotch Ale before bringing them to market. Years of minor tweaks, arguments over hop profiles, and experiments with different brands of base malts are poured into every glass that we brew. In the summer of 2012 we launched our 3rd offering, Fu Manbrew, which won Bronze in the US Beer Open in its first month.

And here is what they have to say about their Fu Manbrew Belgian-Style Wit beer:

A bright, spicy Belgian-style wit. An effervescent, easy-drinking wheat beer, brewed with Belgian yeast, German hops, and a whisper of ginger from the Far East. This mustachio’d Belgian-style wit believes that good beer defies borders. The name Fu Manbrew was crowdsourced with some help from our friends at Scoutmob. They call the mustache a “Flavor Savor” for a reason.

Let’s get on with the review…

  • Appearance: Pale orange color. Dare I say dusty copper? A very effervescent pour, though not much in the way of foam or lacing.
  • Aroma: Subtle fruitiness with a hint of yeast. A bit of orange marmalade and some mild gingeriness (is that even a word?) showing up too.
  • Taste: Light mouthfeel with medium, fizzy carbonation. Wheat and a bit of yeasty goodness at the onset. The ginger spice shows up at mid-palate and carries you through to the finish. A definite ginger beer-like tingle in the aftertaste.
  • ABV: 5.2%

I really enjoyed my bottle of Monday Night Brewing’s Fu Manbrew. It’s crisp, refreshing, and even a little bit spicy thanks to the ginger that was added during the brewing process. I had this beer on a 90+ degree day (the 4th of July to be exact. Hence the red, white, and blue hat in the photo up above) and found it to be a perfect antidote for the hot and humid weather. Well done Monday Night Brewing!

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Many thanks to the good people at Monday Night Brewing for sending us this sample bottle!

Beer Review – Dogfish Head Sixty-One


Dogfish Head Sixty-One

After reading The Dogs of Beer review of the Dogfish Head Sixty-One, I just knew that I had to try it, so when I finally saw it on the shelves (it was in the last place I looked. Funny how that works), I immediately picked up a bottle to round out my mixed six pack of “fruited up” beers.

When Ed reviewed this beer, he went the extra mile and concocted his own version via a bottle of Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA and a couple shots of Zinfandel, so that he could do a side by side comparison. Hang on! I may have jumped ahead a bit without giving you any background information about this beer. Let me make it up to you…

Here is what Dogfish Head has to say about their Sixty-One:

Whenever Dogfish Head President Sam Calagione and his neighborhood friends gather for drinks, they give each other a big ol’ man-hug and order a round of 60 Minute IPA. A few years ago, Sam also ordered a glass of his favorite red wine and poured a little into each pint of 60 Minute. They all dug the combination of fruity complexity and pungent hoppiness, and the blend became a beloved tradition.

Sixty-One captures that tradition in a bottle and marries two Dogfish Head innovations: beer/wine hybrids — which Dogfish has focused on for well over a decade with beers like Midas Touch and Raison D’être — and continually-hopped IPAs.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any 60 Minute IPA on hand, so I’ll skip the side by side comparison that Ed did and just review Sixty-One on its own. Here’s my impression of this beer…

  • Appearance: Pale ruby red color. Thick white foam that rises rapidly to about an inch and then settles down to a thin layer that covers the top of the beer. A wee bit of lacing.
  • Aroma: The aromas are as advertised! Grapefruit scented hops with a definite red wine backbone that is heavy on the tannins.
  • Taste: Medium bodied and lightly carbonated. Starts off with a touch of honey sweetness followed immediately by a healthy kick of mildly bitter hoppiness. The winey (as opposed to whiney) aspects take over to cut the bitterness as you approach the finish. Ends on a dry and somewhat astringent note with a definite red wine like aftertaste.
  • ABV: 6.5%

Since I really enjoy Dogfish Head IPAs (60, 75, 90, and 120 Minute IPAs, Hellhound On My Ale, etc.), picking up a bottle of this beer to see what effect Syrah grape must would have on a rock solid IPA was a definite no brainer. Although that first sip left me a bit befuddled, as the beer came up to room temperature, all of the flavors came alive and I really started to enjoy it. Ed’s review is right on the money! The Syrah grape must definitely mellowed out the hops as you approached the finish. This beer is a hybrid in the truest sense of the word. It starts off as an IPA and ends like a mellow, fruity glass of red wine. Three words: weird and delicious!

But wait, there’s more…

If you want to read even more about this beer, check out The Alemonger’s tangent rich (in a surprisingly on topic kinda way) review of this tasty brew. Cheers!

Beer Review – Monday Night Brewing Eye Patch Ale


Monday Night Brewing Eye Patch Ale

“Yeast sample for lab analysis”. That’s what was written on the label that was taped to the box that contained the beer that you see in the photo above these words. In addition to this beer, there were two other beers in the box from Monday Night Brewing: their Fu Manbrew Belgian Style Wit and their Drafty Kilt Scotch Ale.

To be completely honest, prior to their email asking if we’d like to sample their beers, I had never heard of Monday Night Brewing. As is usually the case when I get an email from someone that I don’t know, I did a bit of interwebz research to see if the sender is legit. Thankfully, a simple “Monday Night Brewing” Google search led me to their website which then led me to their Twitter feed, Instagram account, and Facebook page. And if all that weren’t enough, I also found their brewery profile pages on Beer Advocate and Rate Beer. 

Here is what Monday Night Brewing is all about (courtesy of the “About” section on their website):

Monday Night Brewing is an Atlanta-based craft brewery. We brew beers for the weeknights – balanced, flavorful ales that pair well with food.

Believe it or not, the idea for Monday Night Brewing grew out of a small Atlanta Bible study. We started brewing beer together on Monday nights as a way to get to know each other better. As we got more engrained in the industry and more people started showing up to brew with us, beer quickly became more than just a weeknight hobby.

We spent almost 5 years perfecting our Eye Patch Ale and Drafty Kilt Scotch Ale before bringing them to market. Years of minor tweaks, arguments over hop profiles, and experiments with different brands of base malts are poured into every glass that we brew. In the summer of 2012 we launched our 3rd offering, Fu Manbrew, which won Bronze in the US Beer Open in its first month.

And here is what they have to say about their Eye Patch Ale:

A crisp, drinkable IPA. The earthy deliciousness of Cascade and Magnum hops, combined with upfront malt flavor, and balanced with a pirate’s sensibilities. Our Eye Patch Ale is a uniquely drinkable take on the American IPA – sweet caramel, citrusy flowers and swashbuckling adventure abound with every pint.

Let’s get on with the review…

  • Appearance: Pale orange color. Somewhat cloudy. One inch of off white foam that dissipates rapidly.
  • Aroma: A rather subdued nose with hints of honey and orange marmalade.
  • Taste: Medium carbonation with a smooth and creamy mouthfeel. Starts off with a mellow honey sweetness. Citrusy hops kick in at mid-palate along with some mild bitterness. The sweet and bitter elements come together as you approach the finish, ending on a bittersweet and somewhat astringent note.
  • ABV: 6.2%

I’ve been conditioned to expect huge hoppy flavors whenever I see IPA printed on a bottle of beer, so when I took my first sip of this Eye Patch Ale, I was a little disappointed that my palate wasn’t under attack in a nice, West Coast IPA kinda way. But then a funny thing happened. I played around with the pics (aka, I douched it up a bit), let this beer warm up, took another sip, and then started to really enjoy what was going on in my glass. Monday Night Brewing set out to create a mellow and uber-drinkable IPA, and that’s exactly what they achieved. Their Patch Eye Ale is a well balanced, almost session worthy IPA (I say almost because this beer is easy drinking given it’s middleweight ABV) that is definitely worth trying if you’re on the lookout for a less intense IPA drinking experience.

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Many thanks to the good people at Monday Night Brewing for sending us this generous sample! Stay tuned for reviews of their other beers…

Event Review – Opening Tap, The Official Start of Philly Beer Week 2013!


Mayor Michael Nutter, Don Russell (aka Joe Sixpack), and Tom Kehoe of Yard Brewing

Mayor Michael Nutter, Don Russell (aka Joe Sixpack), and Tom Kehoe of Yard Brewing

Friday, May 31st marked the official start of Philly Beer Week 2013. Prior to the official Opening Tap of this year’s Philly Beer Week, there was a Hammer Of Glory (HOG) Relay which kicked off at Northeast Philly’s Hop Angel Brauhaus at 9:30AM and ended at the Independence Visitor Center at 6:30PM  (you can read more about the HOG Relay and the 19 stops made along the way to Opening Tap by clicking here.).

Although we weren’t able to follow the HOG on its journey to the Independence Visitor Center, Limpd and I were lucky enough to attend the official Opening Tap which kicked off at 7PM. Once again, rather than the usual “play by play” that we pull together for our event recaps, LimpD and I thought that we would instead share a conversation that we had via email in the days following the event.

Here goes…

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G-LO: Before we get into the details about all that went down at this year’s Opening Tap, let me just say that I’m truly impressed that you were able to make it. I don’t want to tempt fate, but it seems the stars have finally aligned! Let’s hope our streak continues.

Although we’ve attended several Philly Beer Week events over the past three years, I find it interesting that we haven’t attended Opening Tap until this year. I know it’s been on our radar, but for whatever reason, we were never able to make it happen. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve really enjoyed our mini pub crawls, but I’ve always been curious to see what the big Philly Beer Week events are like. I think my biggest fear was the potential overcrowding. I mean, is there anything worse than having to muscle your way to the taps for a beer sample?

LimpD: First let me say that I am now two for two and have a mini-booze streak going. I think the key was low expectations, especially since my high hopes for WhiskyLive were dashed thanks to a nasty case of shingles. By keeping the expectation low (a little like the “It’ll never work Lippy!” of Hardy Har Har), I have been pleased with the results.

As respects the Opening Tap, I guess I too was afraid that there would be too many people and too little beer. And, I don’t think I fully appreciated the spectacle of the event or the presence of the Brew-vitational entries. And, in answer to your question, I think it’s worse to have to muscle my way to the taps only if I wind up with a bad beer. I am reminded of that awful Cucumber flavored beer from our last PBW excursion in 2012.

What did you think of the actual Opening Tap? I thought that they had a decent band keeping the crowd entertained, and the presentation of the awards from the Brew-vitational plus the actual tapping of Brotherly Suds 4 by Mayor Nutter was definitely worth seeing. The only thing missing was having a refreshing beer out on the lawn.

G-LO: Two for two? I think you’re more like three out of five this year, while I am five out of five. Not that I’m rubbing it in or anything.

And speaking of rubbing it in, I’m impressed that you remember the Cigar City Cucumber Saison from last year’s Philly Beer Week outing. While you may not have liked it, at least it wasn’t a case of “where are the cucumbers?” with that one. I need to revisit it at some point.

It was quite nice being out on the lawn for the actual “Opening Tap” by Mayor Nutter. Even though it was just over 90 degrees that night, the fact that there was a decent amount of shade made it seem much cooler than it actually was. The crowd was definitely in a good mood, and I really enjoyed the people watching (Hello Darth Vaderess!) and local celebrity spotting, i.e. Tom Kehoe of Yards, Bill Covaleski of Victory, Lew Bryson of Whisky Advocate, Jason Wilson of Boozehound and Washington Post fame, and of course Don Russell (aka Joe Sixpack). It was also great to run into some of our fellow Philly Beer Geeks like Ryan Hudak of the In Search of Beer blog and Stephen Lyford who is like the official unofficial photographer of all things Philly Beer (or is that the unofficial official photographer???). Those guys are everywhere! It was also nice to see Jennie Hatton of Profile Public Relations again so that we could thank her personally for the media passes to this event.

While there was plenty of room out on the lawn, I was kind of surprised at how crowded it was once we entered the Independence Visitor Center for the main event. The VIP section, where we were able to sample the Brew-vitational entries, was particularly crowded. Thankfully, the people working behind the tables were doing a great job of keeping the beer flowing, and they even managed to pass along some useful information about what they were pouring. I’m just happy that we were able to try that Weyerbacher 2012 Riserva when we had the chance. That stuff was ridiculously good. I need to track down a bottle ASAP!

LimpD: Either you are quite good at facial recognition or you are a shameless name-dropper (maybe both). I guess PBW has become the preeminent event in Philly so it draws out the talent. Although, I’m still not sure what the Star Wars folks were doing in full costume.

The VIP section was crowded but as you have said, the pourers were working in earnest to make sure no glass was empty. And you are right, while I was a little leery of trying another sour, the Riserva 2012 was fantastic. I also liked the Arctic Alchemy from Fegley’s. The beer may have been on the boozy side but the pourer did a great job with the history lesson. Sly Fox had their Incubus Tripel (which was good) and the Black Raspberry Reserve (which was only OK, not enough raspberry). I tried Manayunk Brewing’s Siembra Saison. This was an interesting beer as it is a collaboration between Manayunk, Siembra Azul Tequila and folks from Barry’s Homebrew and is aged in oak barrels that used to hold tequila. I think I need to try this one again with a fresher palette. And, I finally broke down and tried the My Antonia (it is a good as you say). Aside from the Riserva what were your other favorites?

G-LO: Yes yes! Shameless namedropper I am for sure. And as for my face recognition skills, they are generally quite good (pity there’s no monetary value to this otherwise useless skill). I was wondering about the Star Wars regalia clad beer drinkers as well, but then I remembered that in addition to the start of Philly Beer Week, Philadelphia Comic Con was going on from May 30th to June 2nd. Given your comic book hoarding tendencies, I’m surprised you didn’t put two and two together. We’ll blame this memory lapse of yours on Darth Vaderess (these are not the comic book geeks you’re looking for???).

As is usually the case, these events can be a bit overwhelming, so while I can’t remember everything that I had that night, there were a couple beers that I need to try again (you know, for research purposes only). I already mentioned the Weyerbacher 2012 Riserva which was absolutely delicious (hoping to grab a bottle at The Foodery very soon! Fingers crossed! Fingers crossed!). I also liked the Arctic Alchemy from Fegley’s Brewworks (talk about a great back story! Almost sounds like that Shackleton Whisky story), and it sounds like I enjoyed the Sly Fox Black Raspberry Reserve a bit more than you did (I liked the subtle raspberriness of it all). And let’s not forget that Bourbon Barrel Aged Insidious (also by Fegley’s) that we tried upstairs. That stuff was super tasty and way too easy to drink given its high octane.

And speaking of upstairs, if I didn’t run into Jennie Hatton again during the event, we would have never had the chance to meet Chris Wilson of Weyerbacher or try Manneken-Penn, his Belgo-American collaboration beer. To be perfectly honest, after all those sours and stouts, I couldn’t get a good read on the Manneken-Penn, so I can’t really say all that much about it. I will say this, it was infinitely better than that Yuengling Porter we tried (as my oldest would say, “Manneken-Penn was googleplex infinity times better!”). In all fairness to Yuengling, there is no way that their beer could hold its own against some of those monstrously huge beers we tried last Friday night. Not exactly a fair match up.

LimpD: Sadly, I only recognize that I probably should know someone. It isn’t until much later that I can recall (usually with prompting) why I might know them. Philly Comic-Con still doesn’t quite explain the appearance of Star Wars clad characters at the Opening Tap. Seems like a shameless attempt to get photographed. Also, what poor planning to wear a full helmet to a drinking event. I don’t even think a crazy straw would have helped her.

Outside of the VIP area was a mix of some interesting craft brewers, home brewers, and some of our old favorites. I thought the Haggis beer was probably the most interesting. One of the home brewers crafted a Shock Top-esque beer that was quite refreshing. I was a little disappointed with the lineup that some of the brewers chose to bring to the event. For example, I had had some great stuff at the Rock Bottom in La Jolla, but their offerings at the event were a little meh. And, don’t even get me started on the Yuengling Porter! I can recall with great joy the purchase of my first case of beer, a Yuengling sampler. I can also recall how much I enjoyed each bottle (the Porter in particular). I’m not sure if it was sensory overload, or just the education of my palette, but the Porter was, to steal our hirsute friend’s favorite descriptor, dreadful.

And, we were extremely lucky that you ran into Jennie. I didn’t even realize that there was an upstairs, so not only did we get to try the Manneken-Penn, but we also found the Fegley’s Bourbon Barrel Insidious Imperial Stout, and the Space Monkey (a Saison/Farmhouse Ale with real raspberries). The Space Monkey was good; the Insidious was great. And, I had that mint and honey beer from Twin Lakes. Not my cup of tea; too sweet and minty. Unfortunately, we had waited too long to get upstairs and a number of interesting local beers had run out by the time we got around to the second half of the room. I find no fault in this as there was quite a crowd. I’m just pointing out that some of the brewers just didn’t anticipate the demand.

My night ended with a lengthy chat with the folks from Penn Brewery. I had no idea that Pittsburgh was steeped in so much tradition and that there are old beer caves all over the place out there. I had a couple of Penn Brewery beers when I was out there about three years ago and I found it to be an average beer out of the bottle. That was not the case on draught. I might need to reacquaint myself with this one and see if my initial impressions hold true.

G-LO: Before we wrap this up, let’s not forget to mention meeting Ed Morgan of The Dogs of Beer blog and Patrick Huff of the Crafty and the Beast blog

About two weeks prior to the event, Profile PR offered us media passes for Opening Tap, the International Great Beer Expo at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, and the opening of the Philly Beer Week Garden at Headhouse Square. Since we couldn’t make it to all of the events, I started making calls and emailing a few people to see if they could go in our place. Of course Miracle Max was the first non-Booze Dancer that I called, but he had other commitments and couldn’t make it. After giving it some thought, I remembered going back and forth with Ed on his blog about Philly Beer Week, so I figured that I may as well check with him to see if he could go. He was all set to attend the International Beer Expo, but at the last minute, we were informed that the 10AM “Meet the Brewer” breakfast was cancelled, so they offered him Opening Tap tickets instead.

After playing a bit of “find the beer geek” via Twitter, it was good to finally find him when we went upstairs to try the Manneken-Penn. Have you ever read his blog? He is a really talented writer and puts a very unique spin on the usual beer reviews. Definitely worth a read! It helps that he also knows his beer (he is playing at the Miracle Max and Alemonger level of Craft Beer Geekiness for sure!). It was also great, and a very pleasant surprise to meet Patrick Huff, especially since I had no idea that he would be there. Always great to spend some time with fellow Craft Beer aficionados!

LimpD: We met Ed and his fiancée Tracey (bless her soul) and Patrick at just the right time as I was beginning to feel some of the effects of our VIP session and the conversation certainly slowed me down. Plus, once the air cut out in this municipal building, I was getting a little hot and looked forward to our time near the door to the patio on the second floor. I think Ed and Miracle Max are kindred spirits and we need to get the two of them together. Perhaps a Bloggers Beer Fest at the Barthenon!

I would like to think that guys like Ed and Patrick are part of the reason we got into blogging. Friendly, knowledgeable, and certainly fans of craft beer, they impart their experience and wisdom without coming off as douchy (I’m looking at you G-LO!). There is no right or wrong with them (okay maybe their opinion of 16 Mile was a bit strong), just an appreciation for the effort that is made in every attempt to brew a quality beer.

Thanks again for scoring the invite. Not to press my luck, but what’s next on the event horizon?

G-LO: I know what you mean about slowing things down a bit. We hooked up with Ed, Tracey, and Patrick at the perfect time. And you are totally right. Hooking up with other likeminded people over the past few years for drinks and conversation has definitely made all of this blogging silliness worth the time and effort. Opening Tap was definitely worth the wait!

And with regards to future events, you’re a greedy, greedy blogger!

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Many thanks to Jennie Hatton of Profile PR for the media passes and warm hospitality! And thank you to Stephen Lyford for allowing us to use some of his great #Beertography!

Beer Review – Maine Beer Company Zoe


Maine Beer Company Zoe

As of this writing, Maine Beer Company lists a total of eight beers on their website. If you count this review, I have so far covered seven of them. I guess I’m sort of like Ray Kinsella from Field of Dreams when it comes to Maine Beer Company. If they brew it, I will buy it!

In case you don’t remember Field of Dreams, here’s a clip from the movie to refresh your memory…

Before we got on with this review, this is what Maine Beer Company has to say about Zoe, their happy, hoppy, amber ale:

Our take on an American amber ale.  Complex malt bill delivers notes of dark raisin, chocolate and biscuit.  Copious additions of American hops yield notes of pine and citrus.

And now for my impressions of this beer…

  • Appearance:  The color is reddish brown and somewhat cloudy. Since I poured this into my glass somewhat aggressively, a thick, fluffy 2 inch off-white head formed rapidly and dissipated really slowly. Some lovely lacing remained on the insides of the glass as I slowly drank my beer.
  • Aroma: I’m getting fresh out of the oven biscotti (the kind that are a bit overdone at the edges), hints of bittersweet chocolate, and honey from the malt, along with a strong grapefruit and pine scent from the hops.
  • Taste: Rich and creamy mouthfeel, perhaps even a bit chewy. This beer has some serious body to it! Starts off with that semisweet roasted malt goodness. Bitter hops kick in towards the middle and lead you to a dry, mouth coating, and moderately bitter finish that lingers for quite awhile.
  • ABV: 7.2%

It’s been a couple years since I tried Maine Beer Company’s Zoe. The first time around, I thought it was just ok, but in all fairness, I had it after a Peeper, so I was probably too starstruck at the time to realize how good Zoe truly is. While there are definitely oodles of hops at play here, once again, Maine Beer Company has done a fantastic job of keeping the bitterness in check with a healthy dose of sweet malty goodness. Great stuff and well deserving of its #1 Amber Ale ranking on Rate Beer!

Beer Review – Anchor Brewing Porter


Anchor Porter Label

As I am drinking this bottle of Anchor Brewing’s Porter and writing up this review, Mrs. G-LO is fast asleep in the room above me. Tomorrow morning at 8:30, she will be flying to San Francisco for the American Educational Research Association’s annual meeting (sounds like fun right?). It would have been great to join her in San Francisco for part of the trip (I’ve never been there), but due to work obligations (it’s budget season!), I wasn’t able to take any time off.

In honor of her journey, I decided that I would review this beer from San Francisco’s very own Anchor Brewing. I figured that if I couldn’t try this beer in its natural habitat, I may as well try it at home.

Here is some information about this Porter from Anchor Brewing:

With deep black color, a thick, creamy head, rich chocolate, toffee and coffee flavors, and full-bodied smoothness, Anchor Porter® is the epitome of a handcrafted dark beer.

A blend of specially roasted pale, caramel, chocolate, and black malts, along with our top-fermenting yeast, creates complexity without bitterness. The brew is hopped at a high rate, and naturally carbonated. The result is dark in the glass, but surprisingly light on the palate.

Anchor Porter® became the first modern American porter when it was introduced in 1972. As we celebrate its 40th anniversary, our porter continues to reward those who look beyond its intimidating appearance to discover its smooth, full-bodied drinkability. Anchor Porter® is the definitive American Porter.

Let’s find out if this beer is an American classic or simply just another beer…

  • Appearance: Deep, dark mahogany color with a bit of light brown coming through at the edges when held up to the light. Thick, one inch tan head that dissipates slowly. Good bit of sticky lacing.
  • Aroma: The nose is not nearly as robust as I would have expected when I first poured it, so I decided to douche it up with the camera while this beer warmed up a bit. Letting it sit was a good move! The classic Porter coffee and chocolate notes are front and center. The coffee is of the American roast variety, i.e. it reminds me of the Ellis or Lacas brand coffees that I have had on numerous occasions at one of the many Diners in the Philly/South Jersey area, and the chocolate is of the semi-sweet variety. Also getting hints of raisins and dried apricots.
  • Taste: Medium bodied, i.e. not too watery and not too thick. Lightly carbonated with a somewhat creamy mouthfeel. A good bit of dried fruit sweetness at the onset followed immediately by a small dose of hoppy bitterness. From the middle to the finish, the roasted coffee and semi-sweet chocolate take over. Leaves you with a soothing coffee aftertaste that lingers for a few minutes.
  • ABV: 5.6%

While I have had the Anchor Steam Beer on a few occasions over the years, for whatever reason, it wasn’t until recently that I started to dig deeper into the rest of Anchor Brewing’s line-up, and boy am I glad I did! In the past five months, I have grown to really appreciate their Christmas and Liberty Ales, and I am happy to report that their Porter is also supremely delicious. It has everything you look for in a dark beer but without the high octane punch of a Russian Imperial Stout or a Baltic Porter. Don’t get me wrong, I have grown to love those big beers, but they’re not something that I would want to drink on a daily basis. For those times when I crave a dark beer, but don’t want to go overboard, Anchor Porter is definitely worth considering. The verdict: a true American classic!

Beer Review – Great Lakes Alchemy Hour Double IPA


Great Lakes Alchemy Hour Double IPA

There’s no real story behind the purchase of this beer. I saw it on the shelf, was instantly intrigued, and since I really enjoy most of what Great Lakes Brewing Co. makes, decided to pick up a bottle for an eventual review. It’s as simple as that!

Here is what Great Lakes has to say about their Alchemy Hour Double IPA:

On the West Coast, surfers have a term for that perfect time of day, when the waves are breaking just right and it feels like you can ride forever. They call it Alchemy Hour. In Cleveland, our surfers have to work a little harder to find a perfect swell. Dressed in wetsuits, up at dawn, they camp out on the shores of Lake Erie in near-freezing temperatures, waiting for the ultimate wave. Crazy? Yes. Extreme? Definitely. Alchemy Hour Double IPA pays tribute to the North Coast’s unlikely surf bums and the ancient quest for liquid gold, wherever it may live: on the ocean, in a lake, in a bottle.

Let’s get on with my review…

  • Appearance: Cloudy red-orange color. Not much in the way of foam, i.e. it dissipated pretty quickly. A bit of lacing, but nothing over the top.
  • Aroma: Oodles of citrusy hops with a good bit of sweetness to back it up. Think honey tangerine and pink grapefruit with a drizzle of honey.
  • Taste: Medium bodied with a healthy dose of fizzy carbonation. Much less aggressive than I was expecting. The citrusy hops and honey sweetness play very nicely together. There’s never too much bitterness, and it’s never overly sweet. And by the time you get to the finish, the hops don’t build up like they do in other double IPAs that I’ve had. Quite crisp and refreshing given the high alcohol content.
  • ABV: 9.4%

While I’ve had an IPA or two from Great Lakes Brewing Co. (Commodore Perry IPA and Lake Erie Monster), I didn’t really love them (they were good, but not great). For whatever reason, the Alchemy Hour Double IPA has definitely won me over. This beer is beautifully balanced, and given it’s high ABV, it’s also supremely drinkable. Well done Great Lakes!

Beer Review – Budweiser Black Crown


Budweiser Black Crown

During my hunt for the absolutely delicious Founders All Day IPA, I saw that Total Wine in Cherry Hill, NJ was selling singles of the Budweiser Black Crown. Since I was curious to see what this beer is all about, I decided to pick up a bottle as part of a mixed six pack.

Here’s what Budweiser has to say about their Black Crown:

Budweiser Black Crown is a new 6% ABV golden amber lager chosen by you, the people. Rooted in Budweiser’s rich heritage and authenticity, it delivers a smooth and distinct flavor you’ve come to expect from the King of Beers. Brewed with toasted caramel malt and a variety of American Hops, this drinkable golden amber lager is finished over beechwood chips for a smooth and distinctive flavor. Join the conversation now with #TasteIs.

Let’s find out if Budweiser brewed up something special…

  • Appearance: Crystal clear amber color. Quite the noisy pour! All of that pop pop fizz fizz makes it sound like I’m filling my glass with seltzer. Zero head and zero lacing.
  • Aroma:  It even smells like seltzer! Actually, it smells like a Yuengling Spritzer. I guess it smells kinda malty and sweet, but that would be quite a stretch.
  • Taste: Watery mouthfeel and light carbonation. Would it have killed them to add some hoppy bitterness? Talk about an unbalanced beer! All I’m getting from start to finish is bland malt. And the aftertaste reminds me of wet cardboard. Let me clarify. This is what I imagine cardboard would taste like if you let it steep in stagnant water for 7 days.
  • ABV: 6.0%

McDonald’s hamburgers. Cheetohs. Kraft Mac and Cheese. Instant Ramen Noodles. Hamburger flavored Doritos. Many of us would classify these foods as craptastic, i.e. so so bad, yet so so good (especially late at night and with a bit of buzz going on). I wish this beer fell into the craptastic category. What we have here is a beer that is so bland and flavorless that I wish it were awful enough to be considered craptastic. Bud Black Crown bored me to tears and almost put me to sleep. I never thought I’d say this, but this beer is making me crave a Leinenkugel Summer Shandy. Now I just need to find a snack that will get this awful taste out of my mouth!

But wait! There’s more…

If you’d like to read a bit more about this beer, click the following links:

And just to be fair, here’s a Bud drinker’s opinion about the Budweiser Black Crown: